Fayetteville chef rehiring 80 employees, opening back up 6 restaurants after qualifying for second round of PPP

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Fayetteville chef, who missed out on the first round of the Paycheck Protection Program fund, is getting some relief the second time around.

Chef Judith Cage, a local celebrity who's made several appearances on the Food Network, had to furlough 80 employees and close down six restaurants in the Cumberland County area because of the pandemic.

RELATED: Fayetteville's Chef Judy closes 6 restaurants while waiting to be approved for Payroll Protection Program

However, after qualifying for a portion of that $310 billion for small businesses nationwide, Chef Judy is planning to bring everyone back.

"It touches my heart just knowing that I can bring folks back and gainfully employ people who need to work," Cage said.

Cage tells ABC11 it took about three weeks for her to be notified that she qualified, after submitting the application there the first day it was available, again.

About 25 employees are already in the process of re-training and preparing to work. Right now, she currently only has one location open at the Ramada Plaza.

This comes as Governor Roy Cooper's Phase 2 is set to begin on Friday evening, allowing restaurants to offer dine-in options at a limited capacity.

Chef Judy says they want to take some time to re-hire everyone and prepare their restaurants for the "new normal".
"We just want to ease into it, because we have been getting a lot of great support; but, we don't want to overwhelm the staff," Cage added.

The goal is to open up their Uptown Chicken and Waffles, off of Owen Drive at Ramada Plaza, to dine-in on June 1. Cage says they also plan to re-open a location at the Stryker Golf Course on Memorial Day for take-out.

From there, they will slowly open up their other restaurants as more staff gets back on board.

In the meantime, Chef Judy and her staff are on a mission to space out tables six feet apart, have masks, gloves, and sanitation supplies on hand, and be prepared to deal with an influx of customers walking through their doors in the coming weeks.

"I'm thrilled just to be able to see smiling faces and folks enjoy the food while dining in, again," Cage said.
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